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Powell, Sinha talks focused on economic issues

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | March 16, 2004 13:27 IST
Last Updated: March 16, 2004 15:25 IST

Colin Powell on Tuesday said that for the first time since he began visiting India after taking over as the American Secretary of State, he talks with his Indian counterpart had focused on bilateral issues.

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Addressing a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, he said that their talks were mainly focused on economic issues, including the row over Business Process Outsourcing, concerning the two countries.

Powell said the two sides are very keen to follow up "energetically" and "expeditiously" the statements issued by President George W Bush and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in January 2004 on cooperation in high technology.

They agreed to work out a roadmap for intensifying economic cooperation and bring more openness to the Indian market.

The two sides have "new ideas" and are "going to pursue" them for increasing economic cooperation and for creating "opportunities for American businessmen" to invest in India.

Outsourcing, which has been a controversial issue in the US presidential race, is a 'global reality of the 21st century', he said.

He hoped that India understands the need for reforms that could lead to more opportunities for American businesses because the focus of the US administration is on creating opportunities so that those who have lost jobs get new jobs.

But he insisted the Bush Administration is not demanding a 'quid pro quo'. Instead, he described reforms in the Indian market as something of a 'natural progression'.

Sinha said the two sides agreed to begin official level discussions in April on bilateral economic cooperation with the objective being to lay out a "road map with milestones" for "enhancing and strengthening economic relations." The two sides would not "allow this (outsourcing) or any other" issue to create any misunderstanding.

Powel's visit at this point of time is a "demonstration of the intense engagement" between the two sides, he added.

Another issue was that of nuclear proliferation, which gains importance in view of the recent disclosures that Pakistani experts led by A Q Khan had leaked nuclear know-how to several countries. The two sides agreed on a dialogue process by which India would see how it could participate in anti-proliferation security initiatives.

Powel said the US definitely knows the role played by A Q Khan in nuclear proliferation. It is also pleased with a 'great deal' of information that it has been receiving from Pakistan on the investigation into his activities. The US is also pleased that his network has been destroyed but Powell admitted, "Much more needs to be done. We can't be satisfied."

There is a need to trace out the others involved. "I would speak to Musharraf about it," he said but denied any knowledge of the Pakistan government's direct involvement in nuclear proliferation.

"We would (also) be talking to President Musharraf on the matter (of terrorist infrastructure)," he said while responding to a question on Indian concerns.

Powel said cross-border movement of terrorists had "significantly gone down" in winter and needs to be monitored in the coming months. "This sort of activity" (lack of infiltration) needs to be ensured "not only in winter but more permanently."

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